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Lettering To The Editor

I don't remember if I explained the reason for the lettering in Stress Puppy here or not.  I know I explain it frequently in e-mails.  So if I'm writing something I've already gone over, I apologize, feel free to skip this post.

Please note also that this is not intended to silence dissent.  I know that a lot of people will disagree with my logic, and I may change my mind and eventually go along with the crowd.  So please don't read this as petulant, I'm just explaining my logic for why I'm doing it this way for now....

I admit my hand lettering is a bit messy.  Those of you who read Head Above Water and Sound Waves recognize I use computer lettering there.  (An upcoming Stress Puppy strip goofs on this, when Holly calls off panel, "Hey, Peter G!  How about some of that nice computer lettering for us?!?)  Head Above Water uses a font that is a bit different from regular comics, looking a little more like hand printing, Sound Waves just uses a generic comic font.  So why do they get the computer lettering while Raff and that gang don't?

It has to do with the "feel" of the strip.  I tried doing some computer lettering on some test strips before rejecting it.  It looks too clean to me.  The most important vibe I'm aiming for in the strip is a sense of spontaneity.  I don't like how some strips are mechanical in their execution.  The same types of gags, set-ups, and so on (Blondie comes to mind).  This is also the reason that I don't plan the strips out very far in advance and will gladly twist things around if the characters take things in that direction (the "Who's The Man?" storyline was originally going to end around strip #14, but when I realized Justin wouldn't take Holly's manipulations lying down, it created a whole new level of conflict and extended the story.  I felt it worked better, because instead of Justin getting picked on, he was giving as good as he got).  I feel the hand lettering "looks" like regular speech, with words sometimes stretched out or crunched together or running on or sometimes said incompletely or....  To my mind, it is a visual metaphor for how people generally talk.  Sound Waves and Head Above Water are planned out further in advance, so the computer lettering feels "right" in those projects.

Part of the problem might be the original size of the strips.  The strips are on 8.5x11 paper.  Standard industry size for strips are 15" long.  Four panels with margins crunches things down.  I'm also thinking of experimenting with the file format.  JPEG's are notoriously fuzzy.  I'm thinking, not only trying TIF files, but adjusting the DPI would also help.  So I am looking at ways to make things better.  I just don't want to do it at the expense of something I feel fits into the aesthetics of the strip.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
Well, whatever you do, I hope it works. Because the growing chorus of people saying the strip is great but hard to read makes for a roadblock to growth.

There are some fonts that mimic handwriting but are easier to read. I'd also suggest that maybe you go to the 15 inch paper...less squish-age.

I'm only throwing my tuppence out there because you got skillz...don't shoot yourself in the foot being organic. ;-)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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